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Vintage Custom? Couture I. Magnin Silk Gown & Jacket - Help dating & I.D. Fabric

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by helenheven, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    HltrGwnJcktFFJcktClse2Views.jpg HltrGwnJcktDrssSprdFFSequinsCls2Views.jpg
    View attachment 6650 View attachment 6651 View attachment 6649
    I believe this I. Magnin set is circa 1970s but thought it could possibly be 1960s - can anybody help to pin-point the vintage? Also, I don't know how it worked in those days with the major department stores, but both pieces are meticulously constructed with many couture finishes, including all the sequin embellishments being individually hand-sewn - is it possible this kind of expertise was available from a department store?
    Finally, can some one PLEASE tell me once & for all what the pleated chiffon trim on the hem is called? I have seen one dealer refer to it as a "curly hem" which is descriptive but surely there is a professional term for this detail - does anybody know it? View attachment 6645 View attachment 6646 View attachment 6647
    Thanks in advance for your help!!
  2. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix Trade Member

    The hem looks a bit like what used to be called lettuce leaf edging, but not quite.

    I think 1970-1972 sounds right, but I am not the authority on this type of dress. It does have elements of the later 1960s as well.

    It is beautiful!
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    The ruffles on the flounce, wide midriff, full sleeves with deep cuffs, halter top, acid colour, could be almost anytime between 1968 and 1972 but if I had to guess I would probably aim for 1970ish.
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    lol - I was writing while you were posting Barbara... great minds think alike....
  5. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Thanks for your response - here is a close-up of the hem trim HltrGwnJcktHem2Views.jpg
  6. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Hi Jonathan, Thanks for your response - it does seem to be unanimous!
  7. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    It occurs to me that the original designer label might be missing - does that make any sense? Do these beautiful pieces ring any bells of design recognition for anyone? As I mentioned above, the construction, materials & finishes scream couture - all the snaps are covered with fabric, the gown's golden 0range silk lining is trimmed with a flounce of what appears to be silk organza in the same color as the pleated/ribbed "lettuce edge" curly chiffon trim hem.... and the individually hand sewn sequins are a work of art! If anyone would care to hazard a guess as to who the designer might be, I'd love to hear any & all! Thanks again!
  8. Circa Vintage

    Circa Vintage Alumni +

    Helen, major department stores had couture departments so it's possible that this was made in house, although most of them had gone by the '70s. I agree with the others on very early '70s and I, too, call it a lettuce leaf hem. It looks like you have accordian pleats too. The detail that I'm looking for which would help put it into the '70s rather than late '60s is the wide collar I can almost see - if you can confirm it's presence, it will help.

    A lot of hand-beading and sequinning was done in Asia during this period so it's possible that the fabric panels were done there and then shipped to the US for construction. It's a stunning ensemble.
  9. poppysvintageclothing

    poppysvintageclothing Administrator Staff Member

  10. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Hi Nicole, Yes I was thinking it might have been possible had this been a 40s or even 50s piece, but this amount of expert workmanship & couture detail for a piece this late makes me think the designer label is missing - I was starting to research designers of the period, Malcolm Starr etc - any guesses?
    The Blouse / Jacket is collarless - I think what you're seeing is the outline of the halter top of the dress showing through the chiffon. The neckline is simple, just rounded.
    As to the material, the label says "Hand woven 100% Pure Silk Made in India" so you are correct that the material was imported but the sequined embellishments - particularly on the waistband and center flower on blouse front - are so "of the design" - as opposed to "allover" - that I think the work might have been done by whoever made the set.
    I hope this new info helps and I really appreciate your expertise - thanks!
  11. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix Trade Member


    Stephen Burrows did a lot of chiffon in his 1970 collection, and he of course used his signature lettuce edging a lot also (not sure if he did in 1970), and bold colors in 1970 also. But I am far from knowing, just musing over it....

    It also reminds me of another female designer from that time, but I am brain dead and cannot recall her name...AAARGH!
  12. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Hi Barbara, Thanks for your response - I have tried to research Stephen Burrows but so far, nothing - I think I'll try to add "+ lettuce edging" to his name and see what comes up....
    If you can remember the female designer let me know... or if you happen to think of any other designer whose work this might be and who might have been sold through I. Magnin - I am now convinced the designer label was removed.
    There is a space between the fabric content label & the I. Magnin label... I'm going to look with a magnifying glass for tell-tale stitch holes... Thanks again!
  13. joules

    joules Trade Member

    Out on a limb, with Miss Elliette, as a possibility.
    Dress I had, with similar treatment:
    Flirty Miss Elliette

    Really think it may be another designer, but just to get the wheels turning, about various designers for I. Magnin, during that era.
  14. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Thanks Joules, I did run across Miss Elliette several times when searching that detail.

    What about Zandra Rhodes, Thea Porter or Mollie Parnis as far as possible "female designer" candidates?
    And there's this designer named Stavropoulos in the 1970s who LOVED lime green and did chiffon..

    Also I don't know enough of Halston, Galanos, Courreges or other superstars of the era like Geoffrey Beene (My Mom had a Beene Bag Skirt!) Bill Blass etc to recognize their work - any guesses would be appreciated

    And... it appears there has defintely been a label of some kind removed from the dress!!

    Thanks again and please let me know if you can think of anything
  15. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Stunning set! And I'm with those who are in the early (very early) 70s camp--I don't see it being 60s (but it could bem as Jonathan says, '68 or '69, but I honestly don't think so).

    I'd call your hemline a "crystal-pleated lettuce-edge hemline."

    You mention the beading being hand sewn--but what about the other construction details? What other hand work is there? It looks as if there are probably buttons on the overshirt cuffs--what do they look like? If this was done in house at I. Magnin, then it might be a couture or custom-made piece, but if it came from one of the designers mentioned and was sold at I. Magnin, then most likely not.

    I'm wondering if this might be a "Saz" dress--Saz was a very small design house (I think you'd call it a "boutique house," maybe?) in NYC in the late 60s into the mid (I think) 70s. Its principals were two sisters from India, and they did import their silk from India. I think they did both couture and high-end RTW. But I don't know if they sold to stores like I. Magnin or not. I had an early 70s' halter dress with beaded bodice and very flowy design and lettuce-edged hem. Not exactly the same style as yours, but close enough that it could be them.
  16. joules

    joules Trade Member

    Of course, Helen, you're welcome. It's a fun puzzle!

    I don't think Zandra was offered at I. Magnin, as Henri Bendel was the place for her clothing then.
    Also, I don't recall these sorts of treatments, with the sequins and all, being characteristic, as painted embellishments were often employed in her designs, and this doesn't strike me as her work.

    Still thinking...

    The dress hem is wired, correct?
  17. PersonalPursuits

    PersonalPursuits Trade Member

    , it looks that way to me as well. I also agree that the set looks to be from the early 70's. Very beautiful indeed! Is it possible that the label may be hidden on another location of the dress?
  18. helenheven

    helenheven Registered Guest

    Hi again, Thanks for your responses - it is kind of a fun puzzle!

    I did come across several "Saz" pieces in my endless research - some very cool - but they seemed a little more hippie-chic/ethnic & didn't appear as high-end couture as this set.

    I looked with magnification under extremely bright lights on both sides of the bodice back where the designer label should have been, and although there is a suspicious space, I really couldn't see the necessary sets of holes in the lining, so I'm going to have to assume it was in-house I. Magnin custom couture - probably one-of -a kind.

    There are 3 covered snaps - no buttons - on each of the cuffs, as well as down center front of the blouse/jacket. I have attached a close-up of some of the snaps. And yes, I believe the "crystal-pleated lettuce-edge hemline" (thanks!) is wired in that way they used to do it - no actual wire but some sort of thin fiber may have been whip-stitched in.
    Thanks again! HltrGwnJcktSnapsEn3202.jpg
  19. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    I own a Miss Elliette too, they used a nylon thread that was inserted in the seam to make it stand out like that. My dress has suffered a little over time (fancy-dress parties :BAGUSE: - I didn't know a thing then about Miss Elliette, but the dress fit the bill), and so it revealed that little secret.

  20. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, the Saz dress I had was extremely high quality, with much handwork both in and out, with divine silk imported from India. It may have been custom-made, as I have never seen another Saz piece like it.

    Can you tell us why you believe your set is true couture? I agree it's stunning, and would love to see the other detailing that would make it couture!

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